New York, NY – Newly proposed legislation in the City Council would facilitate access to early voting for New Yorkers. The proposed bill would work by significantly expanding early voting locations and times throughout the five boroughs, giving residents more physical opportunities to show up and cast their ballots early. The legislation proposed by Council Member Ben Kallos follows an unprecedented increase in early voting ahead of Election Day on November 3, 2020, which led to widespread reports of voters experiencing hours-long wait times at many of the City’s eighty-eight early voting locations.
In 2021 New York City will hold elections for Mayor, Public Advocate, Comptroller, Borough Presidents and District Attorneys. This legislation, if passed and implemented in time, would make it so that this next election can run smoother and more efficiently for New Yorkers who just simply want to vote early.
“An astonishing, yet not totally surprising, 839,875 votes had been cast in the first 7 days of early voting in 2020. New York City was caught unprepared for such large turnout and we cannot let that happen again if we want people to be engaged, involved and excited to vote. We can fully expect for the next election cycles to have high turnout. Let’s do the smart thing, save people time and do something about it now,” said Council Member Ben Kallos.
Int. 2205-2021 would have the City’s Board of Elections mandate at least two polling sites in the forthcoming primary and general elections in June 2021 and November 2021, rising to four polling sites per council district by 2023 with all reasonable efforts to establish eight designated polling locations per council district. The legislation also engages in the process to identify the best community sites to serve local voters. The bill would also open the polls earlier, from, at minimum, eight o’clock in the morning until eight o’clock in the evening from Monday through Friday, and from nine o’clock in the morning until five o’clock in the afternoon on Saturday and Sunday. This would allow for a total of 92 hours of early voting which is 32 hours more than the legal minimum (60), 28 hours more than the existing scheduled hours (64), and 19 hours more than the expanded hours (73) approved by the BOE.
In 2014, Council Member Kallos had proposed Introduction 593 early voting for municipal elections that would have guaranteed at least one early voting site per Council District for a total of 51 with 12 hours on each weekday and 8 hours on each weekend day. This legislation will be updated to reflect early voting laws passed since its initial introduction, would mandate at least 8 early voting sites per district, and add 4 hours per weekday and 3 hours per weekend day for 32 additional hours of voting and total of 92 hours to vote early.
Int. No.[LS 16615]
By Council Member Kallos
A LOCAL LAW
To amend the New York city charter, in relation to early voting
Be it enacted by the Council as follows:
Section 1. Chapter 46 of the New York city charter is amended by adding a new section 1057-h to read as follows:
§ 1057-h. Early voting.
a. For the purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:
Board of elections. The term “board of elections” means the board of elections in the city of New York.
Covered election. The term “covered election” means any election administered by the board of elections for which early voting is authorized pursuant to subdivision 1 of section 8-600 of the election law.
Early voting. The term “early voting” means voting in the manner authorized by title VI of article eight of the election law.
Early voting period. The term “early voting period” means the period during which early voting is permitted pursuant to subdivision 1 of section 8-600 of the election law.
b. 1. Throughout the early voting period, polling places in the city of New York shall be open for early voting from:
(a) No later than eight o’clock in the morning until no earlier than eight o’clock in the evening on each week day; and
(c) No later than nine o’clock in the morning until no earlier than five o’clock in the afternoon on Saturday and Sunday.
2. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the board of elections from establishing a greater number of hours for voting during the early voting period beyond the number of hours required by this subdivision.
c. 1. For each covered election taking place prior to January 1, 2023, the board of elections shall designate no fewer than two polling places for early voting in each council district.
2. For each covered election taking place on or after January 1, 2023, the board of elections shall designate no fewer than four polling places for early voting in each council district.
3. The board of elections shall use reasonable efforts, which shall include, but need not be limited to, collaborating with council members and community boards, to designate additional polling places for early voting beyond the minimum numbers required by paragraphs one and two; provided, however, that the board of elections shall not be required to designate more than eight early voting polling places in any council district.
d. 1. Paragraph (c) of subdivision two of section 8-600 of the election law shall not apply to any primary or special election in the city of New York.
2. To the extent any other provision of title VI of article eight of the election law or any rule or regulation promulgated thereunder is inconsistent with a provision of this section, the provision of this section shall apply.
§ 2. This local law takes effect immediately